Aminoglycoside antibiotics are "the drug of choice" for treating many bacterial infections, but their administration results in hearing loss in up to one fourth of the patients who receive them. Several biochemical pathways have been implicated in aminoglycoside antibiotic ototoxicity; however, little is known about how hair cells respond to aminoglycoside antibiotics at the transcriptome level. Here we have investigated the genome-wide response to the aminoglycoside antibiotic gentamicin. Using organotypic cultures of the perinatal organ of Corti, we performed RNA sequencing using cDNA libraries obtained from FACS-purified hair cells. Within 3 h of gentamicin treatment, the messenger RNA level of more than three thousand genes in hair cells changed significantly. Bioinformatic analysis of these changes highlighted several known signal transduction pathways, including the JNK pathway and the NF-κB pathway, in addition to genes involved in the stress response, apoptosis, cell cycle control, and DNA damage repair. In contrast, only 698 genes, mainly involved in cell cycle and metabolite biosynthetic processes, were significantly affected in the non-hair cell population. The gene expression profiles of hair cells in response to gentamicin share a considerable similarity with those previously observed in gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity. Our findings suggest that previously observed early responses to gentamicin in hair cells in specific signaling pathways are reflected in changes in gene expression. Additionally, the observed changes in gene expression of cell cycle regulatory genes indicate a disruption of the postmitotic state, which may suggest an alternate pathway regulating gentamicin-induced apoptotic hair cell death. This work provides a more comprehensive view of aminoglycoside antibiotic ototoxicity, and thus contributes to identifying potential pathways or therapeutic targets to alleviate this important side effect of aminoglycoside antibiotics.
Tao, L., & Segil, N. (2015). Early transcriptional response to aminoglycoside antibiotic suggests alternate pathways leading to apoptosis in sensory hair cells in the mouse inner ear. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2015.00190